Before Natalie Jachtorowyz became pregnant, she exercised six days a week. When she discovered she was expecting she wondered how her impending bundle of joy would affect her daily routine.
She attended spinning and yoga classes throughout her pregnancy and worked with a personal trainer. "Working out and moving helped a lot, even in the midst of the worst sickness," says Jachtorowyz, of Glenview, whose kids are now 5 and 1. "Moving and breathing air made a tremendous difference." In fact, she attended spinning classes a week before she gave birth to her first child.
Expectant mothers should continue to do the workouts they were doing before they were pregnant. "You never want to start anything new when you find out you’re pregnant. That’s the general rule of thumb," says Anne Pringle Burnell, a fitness instructor at Northwestern Memorial Hospital who is certified with the American Council on Exercise. "If you have been doing it all along, keep doing it."
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "If there are no complications, 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise every day is healthy." However, there are certain forms of exercise that pregnant women should avoid, including anything that involves a risk of falling or losing your balance such as skiing or playing tennis.
Hydration is also key. "Rule of thumb with cardio, avoid overheating. You don’t want to get dehydrated, especially in hot, humid weather," says Karen Boettcher, a master practical trainer for the American Council on Exercise. "You always want to listen to your body with exercise, but when you are pregnant, you want to listen even more."
After the first trimester, expectant mothers should avoid lying on their backs during exercise. "The weight of the belly can stop the blood flow," says Pringle Burnell.
It is also important to take extra time switching positions during workouts. This is especially the case with activities such as yoga and aerobics.
During her pregnancy, Jachtorowyz continued to focus on weight training as part of her fitness regimen. But because an expectant mother’s joints become looser, she did not lift with the intensity she did before she was pregnant. "You can really pull or tear something," says Boettcher. "You have to be careful not to overexert yourself."
Jachtorowyz says exercise makes expectant moms feel better and helps when baby is about to arrive.
Her first labor was long and difficult, and knowing that she had stayed fit through her pregnancy was enough to help her through. "That psychological edge was really important."
For more information on pregnancy classes at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, visit its Web site, www.nmh.org.